One of the most-anticipated gigs at this year's CMW was the potent double bill of up and coming rockers The Dirty Nil and the reunited proto-grunge Vancouver band Slow. At The Phoenix on Wednesday night, The Nil delivered a muscular and crowd-pleasing set, while the ever-unpredictable Slow surprised many by showing up as an eight-piece, supplemented by multi-instrumentalist Kurt Dahle (Age of Electric) and two femme backing singers. The material veered all over the map stylistically, with frontman Tom Anselmi delivering the goods vocally. The set peaked with Slow's mid 80s signature tune, "Have Not Been The Same." That song inspired the title of a definitive book on Canadian indie rock, co-authored by Jason Schneider. He was in the house, alongside fellow scribes Ben Rayner and Aaron Brophy and indie label head Dan Winkley (DWR Records). Great to have Slow back.
– A hot contender for the best CMW-linked party this year is the one Six Shooter Records hosted at their HQ on Wednesday. Entitled International Babes of Glory, it was designed to celebrate prominent women in the Canadian music biz and to promote the cause of gender parity. That is being driven by Across The Board, led by Keely Kemp and Joanne Setterington, while a similar international initiative is Keychange, who aim for a 50:50 gender balance by 2022. That group was also repped at CMW. At the fun soiree, Six Shooter head Shauna de Cartier paid eloquent tribute to her female peers, including Sandy Pandya, Susan de Cartier (inducted into the MMF Honour Roll the evening before), Heather Gibson (NAC), Miranda Mulholland, Iskwe, and Tegan and Sara.
– The spotlight country at CMW this year is the USA, and our southern neighbour pulled out all the stops on Wednesday at the conference. Booths repping Austin, Chicago and other cities were set up, and a special documentary film celebrating American music was screened late afternoon. It was followed by a crowded reception featuring Jim Beam, crab cakes and other Yankee treats. The crowd was serenaded by smooth-voiced soul singer Aloe Blacc. He reprised his Grammy-nominated hit "I Need A Dollar," and delivered a warm version of American classic "Wonderful World."
– Famed London recording facility Air Studios is up for sale, Music Week reports. Based in Hampstead, it has served the UK and international music, film and games industry since 1991. Air was founded by Sir George Martin after his departure from EMI in the late ‘60s. The award-winning studio’s facilities have been used by artists including Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Adele, and George Michael. Air Studios and Abbey Road are the only two UK studios with full orchestral recording facilities, and Air can house both a full symphony orchestra with choir simultaneously. Richard Boote, who acquired Air Studios in 2006, said, “The sale of Air Studios is a significant moment in the history of the music industry."
– A new round of artists to perform at New Brunswick's Sappyfest has been announced.
The highlight is the reunion of area cult faves Dog Day. Other additions include Nap Eyes, Darlene Shrugg, Ice Cream, Ansley Simpson, Cris Derksen, Nick Ferrio, Boyhood, Motherhood, and Quaker Parents They join the previously announced U.S. Girls, Bonjay, Julie & The Wrong Guys, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Jeremy Dutcher, Jennifer Castle, Special Costello, The Burning Hell, WHOOP-Szo, Witch Prophet, BA Johnston, and Emma Healey. The fest runs Aug. 3-5.
– Kudos to the Kitchener Public Library for presenting quality music. Next Tuesday (May 15), it hosts the ImagineIt: Songwriting Summit, Featuring acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriters Oh Susanna and Justin Rutledge. Go to event link kpl.org/85Queen to reserve your seat.